#1410 | Friday, June 21st 2002
I awoke on tuesday morning at 8.30 a.m. (pst), September 11th, 2001 as I do most mornings- with the television on. I recall the Today Show was on and the hosts were on camera with smoke filling the New York skyline in the background behind them. Still somewhat sleepy, I was becoming aware of a tragedy that had just ocurred. I was seeing smoke and hearing talk of an airplane crash but could not see exactly what they were talking about. Only after they showed a clip of the two WTC towers collapsing did I fully understand what had happened while I was sleeping earlier. The images from that day, and in the weeks following, from New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania have changed the way I feel about our friends, our enemies and the world we live in. It is sad that some countries only teach there young about violence and hate. Thoughts and prayers to the innocent victims of 9/11, their families and their friends.
David Smith | 41 | California

#1408 | Friday, June 21st 2002
I live on the West Coast and was just getting out of the shower, when I noticed our local morning radio team (Mark & Brian) didn't sound right. They were very serious about something. I turned up the sound as they went to the ABC feed with Peter Jennings. He said two planes had hit the WTC towers and it was obviously an act of terrorism. I put on my robe and went out to the TV. My dad was in his shower and mom was still sleeping, so I kept the sound down while I gathered my breakfast and sat down in front of the TV to eat while I watched. My first thought upon seeing the burning towers was "wow, they've probably killed a couple hundred people. It's going to take a while to fix those floors up.". As I sat there watching, the strangest thing started to appear on screen. I couldn't process what I was seeing. I thought perhaps it was footage from earlier, when the planes had hit. Then I heard Peter Jennings asking what we were seeing. All of a sudden, the awful truth dawned on me - the first of the towers was collapsing. I was dumbfounded. It was something beyond possibility. A huge building like that couldn't just entirely dissappear. I began to weep and just kept saying "oh my God" over and over again. I walked to the window and looked out, trying to comprehend the number of lives that must have been lost. It was so beautiful and clear outside - but what I had just seen was so horrific. When I heard my mother stirring, I went in the bedroom and told her: "there's been a terrorist attack... and it's really bad," and began to cry. I poured out all the information I had heard - two planes, one in each tower, another plane in the Pentagon, one more crashed in Pennsylvania, one WTC tower collapsed, maybe another rogue plane out there, all planes across the nation being forced to land immediately. Mom and I stood in front of the TV and watched.

I continued to get ready for work as slowly as I could, not wanting to go. I kept checking the TV, still trying to comprehend. As a family, we stood and watched the second tower fall, numb with sadness. Dad left for work, then I got a phone call from my employer - we were shutting down for the day, since my workplace is a very well-known theme park (an all-American target). This was only the second time in the park's 45+ year history it had fully shut down for the day. Mom and I sat all day, watching the news, seeing all the footage of the planes hitting the towers over and over again.

That night was the most frightening of my life. Although all commercial air traffic was suspended, the roar of planes filled the air. I knew that every one of those aircraft were military. I barely slept. Many friends reported sleepless nights, as well.

Still today, nine months later, it affects my life and my work. Every time I travel or visit a popular event or location, I have to consider the risks. Each day at work I have my bag and ID checked constantly. The guests in our park have their bags checked before they come through the gates. We have all learned to live with the changes imposed upon us by these terrorists. Our lives and our world will never go back to the way they were before Sept. 11. We spend our time worrying about more attacks, constantly hearing warnings from the government about likely targets and dates. It is overwhelming, but we try to come to terms with it. We will be cautious, but we will continue living our lives. And we will never forget those whose lives were lost.

Cheryl | 33 | California

#1407 | Thursday, June 20th 2002
On 9/11, I was in Princeton, NJ conducting business at my firm’s HQ. I had flown in from my home in Northern California a few days before. My cousin is an executive at the Baltimore branch office for the same firm, and he had been in town as well. That morning, we were preparing to get on with our business for the day, as it was the last day of our trip. I was scheduled to fly out of Newark back to Oakland Airport later that afternoon. Needless to say, that flight never took off.

My cousin & I were engaged in some casual conversation with a particular dept. group, and someone mentioned a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. With this brief info. only, I recall thinking as others did that it was probably a small private plane, and that it would indeed be major news in NY. But moments later the severity of the incident became more clear, as we saw from our source of information (CNN.com) that this was no small plane that had run off course.

Obviously, things happened quickly thereafter. Everyone became glued to a computer screen, watching various news sites, and somewhere there was a radio on. The normal business day we all had envisioned was long gone when the second plane hit. The full force of that fateful day hit me when the first tower fell – I remember feeling chills run down my arms. My eyes locked to my cousin’s and he immediately said what we were both thinking – we need to get out of here.

We agreed to get our things together and drive his car to his home outside of Baltimore. I went outside and used my cell to call my wife. I knew she would be just getting our two small boys breakfast at that time, readying them for school. I also knew we had a rule of no TV in the morning until after everyone was fed, dressed, washed up and ready to begin the day – and since is was a little after 7AM/PST, she probably didn’t know what was occurring.

She answered and I told her to turn on the news immediately, that planes had hit the WTC Towers, and that they had collapsed. I told her I was OK of course, and that I was going to stay in Baltimore. No flying for me tonight. I said I’d call her from the road a little while later. And honey, I love you.

Well, I made it to Baltimore and stayed with my cousin in the country. We heard on the drive south much of what the rest of the nation was hearing. Driving through the Philadelphia area was eerie – I remember seeing a large overhead sign flashing “New York City – CLOSED”. There were State Troopers and National Guard vehicles all over, and it was damn good to see them.

I worked out of the Baltimore office for the next few days, and was able to communicate to all those that I needed to. I came to realize later that the events of 9/11 actually changed my professional life to a large degree, as the time in that regional office proved to be very beneficial for a variety of reasons. But obviously I take little solace in that. In fact at the time I concentrated mostly on praying, and trying to understand who had done this horror…and why.

My next thought was how to get home. As the days passed, I worked with my travel agent in SF to finally secure a flight out of BWI to Oakland Airport. It was not fun to fly at that time, but other forms of travel were simply not possible or feasible. I had been booked on flights that were cancelled hours before their departure, and I had been scheduled to fly out of airports from Dulles to JFK (to destinations as far away from my home as LAX or Vegas). I was one of the thousands of stranded businessmen/women, who just wanted to see their families again. The airport was almost surreal, with seriously armed soldiers, police dogs, ID checks everywhere, detailed searches, and tension in the masses. But finally, 10 days later, I flew home.

I was a very young boy when Bobby Kennedy was shot. The memory has faded, but I still recall the tension and sadness of the adults I was with that day in my home in Northern New Jersey. I am sure that my two sons, ages 7 & 4 last Sept., will remember Sept. 11th in that same manner. Hearing my 4 year old say the word “terrorists” upon my return was a bit uncomfortable, and kind of sad.

The world changed forever for our children that day. And like millions of others, I will never forget.

David | 40 | California

#1387 | Tuesday, June 11th 2002
It has now been 9 months since that terrible day. You never forget the uneasy feelings we all felt that day. I was 2000 miles away from my family and so desparately wanted to get home to hug and see them one more time. They say time heals all.... will be ever be normal again?
JG | 30 | California

#1366 | Sunday, June 2nd 2002
I was at school when in sunny California. It was already after lunch when I heard about about it. It was like 5th period. It was 1:ooPm California time. I went to class and the teacher told us that the school did not whant us to know what happened to it would not disturb our studies but America is under attack. She turn on the T.V. and I was like Dude shes not jokeing. Then I was thinking about how I might get drafted in a month because I turned 18 in Oct. Dude Im so happy they did not start the draft but I'm gonna go join the army any way and kick some Taliban Ass.
John | 18 | California

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